Four Lions, comedy/drama, rated R, The Screen, 3.5 chiles In Four Lions, a disparate gaggle of aspiring Muslim terrorists living in Britain have one thing in common: unhappiness with their lot in life, intensified by a big dose of general ineptitude. Each has his own reason for membership in this particular brotherhood, and together they are hilarious, a comic tour-de-force, 2010’s funniest cinematic terrorists, until they blow people up.
The makers of this dark comedy, including director Christopher Morris, are in full control of their tone, and it would be as unwise to assume the film is a comedy about funny, violent Muslims as it would be to assume it’s a skewering of anti-Muslim fear and bias. Though the Sundance hit has been compared to This Is Spinal Tap and referred to as though it is a mockumentary, Four Lions is a dramatic narrative with just enough of the ridiculous and the sublime to expose the danger in the arguments around terrorism and the widespread assumptions about Muslims around the world, regardless of individual Muslims’ personal stances on the matter of jihad and/or their level of knowledge of and affection for their own religion. For at least a few of the protagonists, support for jihad is comparable to the street cred one might gain in America by joining a gang; there are references to rapper Tupac and debates about who among them is “most al-Qaida.” Barry (Nigel Lindsay), a lower-class Brit and Muslim convert, believes he is the most al-Qaida. He also thinks a mosque would make a good terrorism target because it would radicalize the moderate Muslims into jihad — a theory containing more than a dash of the race-war philosophy that underpinned the Manson Family murders. Omar
Explosive ambition: from left, Nigel Lindsay, Kayvan Novak, and Arsher Ali